Posts Tagged ‘first-generation student’

Hifza Hameed, Brooklyn College

I am a freshman at Brooklyn College. I’m currently undecided. But I hope to major in something that will guarantee a job as soon as possible, so I’ll probably major in something STEM-related. I always knew I had to study and get a higher education so I could be financially independent, move out, and live my life on my own terms. 

I currently receive a Pell Grant and TAP. I am the first woman in my family to go to college. I hate the anxiety of filling out my FAFSA when I don’t know how much money I’ll receive. I don’t know why I received less money this year too. The financial aid I receive covers my tuition, textbooks and lab fees. But it does not cover rent, food, and living expenses. I don’t have a job right now but I am looking for one so that I can cover the added expenses of college that people don’t normally consider. I’d never be able to pay rent and pay tuition at the same time. That’s why I still live with my family. TAP should be expanded so that students can better focus on their studies and worry less about the added expenses of education. 

Kiara Lo Coco, Borough of Manhattan Community College

I’m a first-year student majoring in criminal justice. After obtaining my bachelors I want to go to law school and become a criminal lawyer or a human rights lawyer. I receive TAP and a Pell Grant along with financial aid. My tuition is covered.

Unfortunately I do not have my own advisor. I have an opportunity to join the BLA program at my college but I fear that if I join BLA I will not be able to get any help from other programs such as ASAP. College textbooks, lunch, and transportation are expenses outside of tuition. I was looking for a job but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been made difficult to find a job and register for the upcoming semesters’ classes. My family and I are immigrants from Italy. Nobody in my family is working right now because of the pandemic. If I don’t get a STEM waiver, I will not be able to afford summer or winter courses. I am fortunate that I am able to attend college and receive an education that I can be proud of.

Personally I’m a very determined student. Being an immigrant pushes me to achieve unimaginable things such as getting a high school diploma in one year and doing 4 years’ worth of high school material by going to Saturday classes and waking up very early. I make sure that I am still on track even now because I’m that determined. We need a fully-funded CUNY because we are very motivated and dedicated students. If CUNY were to be fully funded, we would have better infrastructure that would allow us to get to class on time, instead of taking detours, and the staff we need to succeed.

Judley Baltazard, City College of NY

I’m a junior majoring in Sociology. My future plans include graduate school to become a clinical therapist. I value all the resources available to be able to gain the skills necessary to further my career.

I am able to attend college through financial aid, including TAP and a Pell grant. I’m a first generation student, so furthering my education is more of a community achievement than anything else. Although I receive financial aid I have sought part-time employment to aid with my many expenses i.e food, bills, clothes, etc. I was unable, however, due to my heavy class load of 5 classes per semester. This class load is essential in order to receive the TAP and Pell grants which cap after four years.

A fully funded CUNY is fundamental to not only the success of thousands of students but the economy as a whole.

Jennifer Lopez, SUNY Cortland

I’m currently a junior studying Sociology at SUNY Cortland. After graduation, I hope to attend graduate school near home and to find a part-time job. I receive scholarship help like TAP and Pell Grants. I support myself financially, so I work during my summers and during the school year to pay for textbooks and to pay for my food costs because I don’t receive any support for food like SNAP. 

I am very thankful as a first-generation student to be able to go to college. College is still expensive even with all these financial aid grants, but everyday I work hard to be a better person and make my parents proud, so at the end of the day everything is worth it.

If SUNY were fully-funded, then students could focus on classes.  Financial stability for some students can be very stressful which can impact how they do in school. One of the biggest challenges was adjusting to the distance from Cortland to my hometown and fitting in, since Cortland does not have a very big Latin community.

Omar Andron, City College of NY

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I’m a senior majoring in political science. After graduating, I want to work in public policy. I’m graduating on time because I cannot afford not to. Because I’m a transfer student from Russia, I don’t have any financial aid and have to pay more than the average student. My FAFSA application was not accepted because I already have a degree from Syria.

Compared to private schools, CUNY is cheaper but a diploma from a private college comes with prestige. I’m the first person in my family to go to college and the first to not work a blue-collar job. I pay for school, rent, food, transportation, books, and support my family back home in Turkey.

I’m currently in debt over $28,000 because I needed help to pay for everything because I can’t work a full-time job since I have been in school for the past 7 years. I receive Medicare from the State of New York, but the process itself is very difficult and tedious.

We need a fully funded and free CUNY because all public universities should be truly public. The moment you put a price tag on a public service, it’s no longer for everyone. It’s now only for those who can afford it!

Also, the rising tuition should be alarming to students. In other countries, once the government tries to raise the price of tuition, students protest. Here we are simply not. If we don’t raise our voices against the status quo and stand for what we all deserve, it’ll get worse and worse!

Katherine Palma, Queensborough Community College

I am a sophomore studying criminal justice that wants to go to John Jay. I receive the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)award and the Pell Grant and I am part of the ASAP program.  Since ASAP covers textbooks and metrocard, I can use Pell for food and other bills. I also have a paid internship with a cadet which helps me pay for some of the textbooks that don’t get covered through ASAP.  I am the first person in my family to go to college, my family is from Ecuador.  If I didn’t get financial aid I would have gone to the army because they pay for college.  I was part of CUNY Start originally and it helped me get through remedial classes by offering textbooks and advisers for much cheaper.    I would have liked to be in the ACE program at John Jay but it doesn’t cover transfer students.  I will probably rent textbooks when I transfer.  I’ve been looking for internships for credit so that I graduate on time at John Jay and don’t run out of my financial aid.

Anny Mariano, Queensborough Community College

I am a freshman psychology major. I would like to eventually work at a school and work with teenagers or do social work. I receive the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Pell Grant and I am looking for a job to pay for the bus, food and clothes. I didn’t qualify for ASAP because they said I had too many remedial courses. But I had taken those classes in the summer already. When I went to try again to appeal, the spots in ASAP were already filled up. If I was able to get into ASAP I would get my metrocard covered which would be a huge help. I am the first person in my family to go to college. My family and I are from the Dominican Republic. If I didn’t get financial aid I’d have to take out loans. I am trying to work to save money in case there is a semester that I don’t get enough financial aid.

Lina Pignato, SUNY Cortland

After losing my father in high school, I didn’t realize I’d have to lean so heavily on my mother for assistance.  No one in my family has been able to achieve a four-year degree yet. That has been my motivation to work hard to make them proud. My mother wisely invested in a savings account for my education, unfortunately the funds only partially cover the costs for the first two years of SUNY Cortland and the costs only seem to be going up.

I work full-time over the summers at an assisted living center and was fortunate enough to secure one of the limited spots in the Work Study Program to put towards the costs of living at Cortland. While it is difficult to keep up with the expense of food, transportation and other unavoidable essentials, I am thankful to have been accepted into work-study because it helps reduce my tuition costs and enables me to have some extra cash during the semester.

Maria Bailon, Hunter College

Understanding my mother’s struggle to get an education, makes it clear that I would not be able to pay for college if I did not qualify for financial aid like the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Although my mother’s experience differs from mine, I know if she had access to opportunity programs or financial aid to help her pay for education, she would have finished. I recently quit one of the two jobs I had at the beginning of the semester because my jobs were taking a toll on my academic performance. It is stressful to manage time when you constantly must decide on whether you need to work to have money to pay for groceries or to use that time to study for an upcoming exam

As first-generation college students, my mother always encouraged my siblings and I to continue with our education to have a financially stable future, nothing like what we experienced as children. My mother valued the little education she received in her hometown in Mexico, and wished to continue her education as a college student but like most of her neighbors, she had no money for it. Although against all odds, my mother followed her passion to learn and enrolled herself in a public college without any financial support from her parents.. She barely passed the first year and failed the following year; whenever I ask her what held her back from going back to school, she explained the lack of resources. Students should not carry such a financial burden before they are even given the chance to better themselves.  

Dwayne Jolly, Queens College

College is costly to me. I pay through loans and out of my pocket.  The cost makes it definitely hard to enjoy college since I need the help of loans to pay for it. I work about 15 hours a week throughout the school year in an attempt to lower the cost of college.  I’m the first from my family to get a degree. I am from a Caribbean island, and there, it’s a big deal to get a degree.  I’m studying nutrition and exercise sciences at the moment but not sure what’s in store after college.  I try not to think about the stress that paying for college and maintaining my grades puts on me. If I do, it makes me very sad and even frustrated with the way the system works here in America.  Financial aid has been a huge help, even though it never covers everything (academic, housing, books, meals).